The Supreme Court of Canada, in a unanimous decision, has protected the confidentiality of the sensitive records of survivors of residential schools. The ruling permits survivors to consent to the preservation of their records, but places the power to make that decision squarely with the survivors themselves. If no consent is obtained, the records will ultimately be destroyed, and the privacy of the survivor preserved.
The Government of Canada had argued that they were entitled to hold these records and ultimately to make them available in the Archives of Canada whether or not the survivor consented to this disclosure. However, as the Chief Adjudicator has stated, making this information public would be an "appropriation of their experience", is contrary to the promises made to the survivors, and ultimately is not consistent with the paramount principle of reconciliation.
The Court's decision is a great outcome for those survivors of the residential school tragedy who were promised that their horrific stories of physical and sexual abuse would remain private and confidential.
Arvay Finlay partners, Joseph J. Arvay, QC and Catherine Boies Parker, were counsel for the Chief Adjudicator in this matter.
A copy of the decision can be found here: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/16797/index.do